“Someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you’” (Luke 12:13-14)?
Even as the teachings of Jesus would seek to elevate our worldview; that we might see and pursue life from a heavenly perspective, there are always those distracting voices, seeking to pull us back down to carnal pursuits. Jesus refuses to give his time and energy to referee a domestic dispute regarding which brother is less greedy. It’s an all too familiar scene, even in today’s world. What it requires is a discerning ear, the ability to focus on the voice of the Spirit while being bombarded with the ambient noise pollution that dominates our world.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
Christianity rises or falls on the reality of the resurrected Christ. If there is no resurrection, then 2000 years of preaching has been for naught, your faith is meaningless, you are still in your sins, the dead are destined to a lifeless grave, and going to church is time that could be better spent on worldly pleasures, children’s athletic and social activities, and other more entertaining pursuits. Thank goodness our strong convictions regarding the resurrection have directed our steps in such a way as to avoid such frivolous endeavors.
“Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:11).
For the Apostle Paul, the resurrection isn’t just a historical reality from the past; it is a present reality in every believer. While it’s significant that the resurrected Christ appeared to Cephas, James, the other apostles, and more than 500 at one time, and also to Paul (v.5-7), the most compelling argument for the resurrection isn’t those who saw him back then, but all who live for him today. Only by living the resurrection life today does it have any chance of continuing forth in the generations following.
“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12).
Paul is perplexed that someone converted on the basis of the resurrected Christ could now, in both confession and practice, espouse a position of unbelief regarding the bodily resurrection of the dead. Having addressed three major issues within the church—sexual misconduct, irresponsibility in matters of conscience, and corporate worship practices—each being driven by their own selfish desires, Paul is convinced these have arisen because of their lack of conviction regarding the resurrection. That is, if they actually believed it, these issues would resolve themselves. A true belief in the resurrection isn’t just an audible confession; it is an obvious life.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
We often hear the question, “Aren’t all religions basically the same?” All of them are, with the exception of one. Call the roll of the world’s religions and they share a common trait—their founder is dead. Only Jesus Christ has defeated the power of death and proved victorious over the grave. Ours is a living hope.
“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
It was to a dying man that Jesus spoke these words. Imagine the comfort they offered. We all wonder what happens the moment our physical life ends. For those who look to Jesus for words of life, he says yours will be an experience of paradise. No sleeping in a grave; no soul sleep; no suffering; no purgatory; no limbo state. What God has in store is immediate.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
The story of the gospel is a continuation and fulfillment of what began with the nation of Israel. Just as the Jewish people have a keen awareness of their “story,” we are under greater compulsion to hand down what was given to us. This heightened awareness of who we are as the people of God does not grow, flourish, and become engrained by an annual observance such as Easter, nor a more frequent, but still sporadic, participation determined by those activities that, in our own minds, we have deemed “more important” than church. I sometimes hear the tiresome line, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” That’s true, but neither do I have to go home to be married. Yet, by so choosing, I’m not going to be much of a husband, just as apart from the church I’m not going to be much of a Christian. Ours is a story of community.